Multiple pet homes are on the rise. Many families like the idea of having more than one dog or cat, and in truth, the benefits are hard to deny. Since most adults in a family must work every day and the children are relegated to school, most pets spend the majority of the week alone during working hours. The addition of a second…or even a third…pet into the home is a great way to provide Fido or Fifi with a little company to help stave off the boredom when the family is away. As an added bonus, two pets tend to keep each other occupied and bond quite deeply to one another. Though many would assume that multiple pet homes always involve two or more of the same species, this is not strictly the case. Some families opt to have a dog and a cat, or a more traditional pet animal and something more exotic such as a bird, lizard, or even a snake! If you’re the proud owner of a cat, and you’re thinking of adding a puppy to your home, what is the best way to introduce the two animals? Can a dog and a cat live together in peace?
The Best Time to Introduce a Puppy to Cat
Whether or not you intend for your puppy to live with a cat, it is always a good idea to introduce your pup to as many new experiences as possible, and this includes meeting cats. Even breeds known to have high prey drive can often learn to live with cats if they meet them at a young enough age and learn to accept them as a normal part of family life.
Reputable breeders begin the socialization process early with their puppies, so ideally, your puppy should have already been exposed to a number of novel items and experiences to help fuel his curiosity and reinforce that new things are exciting and not necessarily a cause for concern. With this in mind; to give your puppy the best chance at developing a lifelong friendship with Fifi the cat, it is best to introduce your pooch to your kitty as soon as possible; even as early as 8 weeks of age.
Key Components to Proper Introductions
When making introductions, it is very important that you not rush the process. A negative experience early on can make a lifelong impression which could make it difficult for the two species to learn to live peaceably together. For best results, slow introductions which take place over a lengthier period of time are the best way to go.
When you first bring your puppy home, do not immediately introduce him to your cat. Remember that these two creatures are strangers to each other, and each has a set of etiquette standards they will try to adhere to when meeting new animals. However, dogs and cats do speak different languages, and that’s why you need to offer them your assistance and to exercise proper dog and cat savvy.
In the early days of your puppy joining your home, you will want to keep your two pets completely separate. For best results, each should be in a different room with a door separating them from each other. Your puppy will have a lot of new information to pick up as he leaves his breeder’s home and navigates his new life with you. This is a time of learning, and though it is filled with excitement, it can also be a scary time for a puppy.
Be certain to rotate which animal is separated from you as you don’t want resentment to build in either animal. When it is time to place your puppy in a separate room, you will want to include a blanket or shirt that smells like you to help ease any anxiety which could result from being kept away from you. The best time to put your puppy away is after a play time when he is well tired out and ready for a nap.
After a few days of “crating and rotating” your pets, you will then be ready to move onto the next step which is allowing each of the animals the opportunity to greet each other in a safe face-to-face manner.
To help the two animals to get used to one another, it is best to set them up in a large space that is divided by a baby gate with the cat on one side and the puppy on the other. Be sure to include all of the things each of your pets will need to feel comfortable including blankets, beds, a litter box/potty area, water, food, and toys. When you set up these sections, be sure to leave space where the two can sniff and see each other through the gate as well as a section where the animals can go if they don’t want to interact. Allowing each pet a choice is key to helping them learn to view each other as friends. Forcing the two animals together is a big mistake a lot of owners make. You don’t want to do that as it will derail the introduction process.
Once you have observed that the two animals are interested in each other and seem to be comfortable around one another, you may very cautiously allow them in the same space but only under strict observation and for very limited amounts of time. To reinforce the process, you’ll want to have access to super yummy treats for both your puppy and your cat. When the two approach each other in a friendly manner, be sure to lavish them both with lots of praise and to reward them with treats. In this manner, you will reinforce the idea that good things happen when they are near to each other. This step will help the animals to feel positively towards one another and realize that being in each others’ presence is a predictor of good things to come.
Always remember that puppies can be persistent and annoying to adult animals, and this can cause a cat to reject the opportunity to form a friendship with your pup. Take care that your cat always has a means of escape if your puppy is becoming too much for him and don’t allow your puppy to be a pest.
Can Cats and Dogs Learn to Love Each Other?
While it certainly is possible that your dog and your cat can learn to enjoy each others’ company, it is rarely achieved without time, patience, and lots of effort. For best results, proceed slowly and with caution, and hopefully, your pooch and your feline will become the very best of friends!